Critical Success Factors for Virtual Onboarding

by | Apr 14, 2021 | eLearning

Investing in your new hires has a significant and long-lasting impact on your organization, culture and employee retention. As a result, getting your virtual onboarding program right is critical!

Higher Retention and Engagement is Not Accidental

“Organizations with strong learning cultures had 30-50% higher levels of engagement and retention than their peers. They also are:

  • 52% More productive
  • 92% More likely to develop unique products and processes
  • 56% More productive likely to be first to market with products/services
  • 17% More profitable than peers

Source: David Mallon, High-impact learning culture: The 40 best practices for creating an empowered enterprise, Bersin by Deloitte.

Successful Virtual Onboarding Requires Connection

Over the past 20 years, PSI has had the pleasure of helping our clients improve the industry IQ and strategic decision-making of their recent new hires and interns. The past couple of years have been different as our clients shift from in-person to virtual onboarding.

As Learning and Development continues to adapt to virtual onboarding, we’re struck by how different this process is for new hires. PSI has been working in the virtual learning space for years, and virtual onboarding brings new challenges. Virtually onboarding employees makes it more difficult for new hires to:

  • Feel connected to the organization
  • Understand the company’s strategy and how they can contribute
  • Build their network and chart a future within the organization

Create a Sense of Community

When onboarding new hires, it’s critical that they feel that they are part of the organization and understand its culture and values. To help new hires assimilate into your organization’s community and better understand “what makes your company tick,” be sure your onboarding program includes information on your company’s culture:

  • What’s unique about working for your company?
  • What do customers say about your business?
  • How does your organization measure success?
  • What differentiates your company from the competition?

Use the onboarding experience to give new hires a view into what really makes your organization different.

  • Introduce them to executives and customers by hosting video calls with senior executives to discuss the company culture.
  • Sponsor a Q&A session with customers to talk about your company’s value. Get the new hires excited to be part of your company and an organization that is making a difference for its customers and community.

Develop Strategic Thinkers

When new hires are onboarded remotely, it’s challenging for them to grasp the organization’s strategy and how they fit into it. To ensure your new hires get off to a great start, be sure your onboarding program includes information on your company’s strategic direction. Help new hires understand their role and how they can contribute so they think strategically and begin making an impact right from the start. To create strategic thinkers, new hires need knowledge of:

  • Company strategy and goals
  • Line of business structure and purpose
  • Products and services provided
  • How the organization makes money

Providing new hires with a strategic overview of the organization helps them feel connected and ensures that they have the knowledge needed to think strategically and add value. Help them think like management or owners right from day one.

Build Networking Opportunities

New hires must learn to navigate a new organization virtually, meeting their peers, direct reports and executives remotely. Before 2020, new hires had opportunities to ease into an organization by meeting associates and executives in less formal settings or at organized events, helping them assimilate into the culture gradually. Now, that’s all changed.

To help new hires connect with other employees, ensure your onboarding program includes plenty of opportunities to network:

  • Create personal connections with peers by incorporating group learning and team-based exercises into your virtual onboarding plans
  • Involve managers in the process to help new hires build a relationship with their manager and ensure that managers support and are aware of onboarding efforts
  • Ask team members to set up a one-on-one call to answer questions or schedule a virtual coffee break to “shoot the breeze” and get to know the new hire personally

If your new employees are hired out of college or business school, expose them to some of the organization’s bright young talent to show them their career possibilities. New hires love any opportunity to build their network, so be sure your onboarding plan includes plenty of interactions with people throughout your organization.

“…the faster new hires feel prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute…”

Source: Society of HR Management Body of Competency and Knowledge

Our clients are doing a great job overcoming the obstacles created by virtual onboarding, and we’ve been happy to help them meet the needs of their new hires. An effective, high-quality onboarding program will ensure your new hires and interns get off to a great start, improve retention and positively impact your organization.

Check out these other blogs for more ways to onboard, upskill and build strong teams:

About the Author

Jill Gualtieri, is the Chief Learning Officer and a partner at Performance Solutions International (PSI). She has been providing training and consulting services for the last 25 years and loves helping clients achieve their learning goals.

Performance Solutions International (PSI)

PSI is the leading provider of industry-focused training, custom learning solutions and learning consulting services to empower your professionals with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment.